There have been significant recent developments in the spread of African swine fever (ASF) in the world. Developments in the distant countries of Germany and the Dominican Republic are especially grabbing headlines, with domestic pigs becoming infected in Germany and the first cases in the western hemisphere in nearly 40 years appearing in the Dominican Republic. ASF continues to spread in domestic pigs in countries such as in China, the Philippines, Romania, Poland and Serbia (Cadogan, 1 Aug 2021; Fastmarkets, 2021; FAO EMPRES, 2021). The spread of the virus is worse among wild boar in countries such as Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia (Cadogan, 1 Aug 2021). We turn our attention here to the evolving situations in Germany and the Dominican Republic. While the developments in the two countries are unrelated to each other, they highlight the scope and challenges associated with controlling the disease.
First cases of ASF in domestic pigs in Germany
The first cases of ASF have been confirmed in domestic pigs in Germany, affecting 206 animals on three farms in the eastern German state of Brandenburg between 15 and 17 July (TSIS, 2021; Pig333, 20 July 2021). Previous cases have only been found in wild animals, with 1,395 African swine fever cases so far in wild boar in the Brandenburg area (MSGIV, 2021). Brandenburg is on the border with Poland, where the disease is widespread (Hogan, 16 July 2021). China and other pork buyers banned imports of German pork in September 2020 after the first case was confirmed in wild boar (Hogan, 16 July 2021). Import bans by China and major Asian importers remain in place (Hogan, 16 July 2021).
In addition to the existing restriction zones due to ASF in wild boars (core areas, areas at risk, buffer zones), restricted areas and surveillance zones will now be established around the affected holdings for quarantine (BMEL, 26 July 2021). In Germany, the states are responsible for animal disease control. The veterinary offices on the ground execute the animal disease control measures. The FLI supports the epidemiological investigations. The regionalization in the EU remains in place and there is thus the continued possibility of intra-community trade with pigs and pork, since the domestic pig herds are located in restricted zones that had already been established.
First cases of ASF in the Dominican Republic and thus in the Western Hemisphere
The U.S. confirmed the discovery of ASF in samples collected from backyard domestic pigs in the Dominican Republic on 29 July (Ingwersen & Polansek, 2021). The positive samples came from two farms that were geographically separated, one on 1 July and one on 14 July. ASF has been detected in 11 of 32 provinces of the country as of Monday, 2 August (Dominican Today, 2021). It is unknown at this time how the virus entered the country (Lopez, 2 Aug 2021).
This ASF outbreak is the first in the Americas since 1983, when Haiti controlled an ASF outbreak alongside its Dominican neighbor (Ingwersen & Polansek, 2021; Danzetta et al., 2020). The entire pig populations of the Dominican Republic and Haiti were eradicated at that time in an effort to control the disease (Cody, 1983).
While the culling of tens of thousands of pigs in the affected areas is being undertaken, several other additional control measures are being implemented before a national-level cull of its near 500,000 pigs would be considered again (FAOSTAT, 2019; Lopez, 2021; Polansek, 30 July 2021). The Dominican Republic is restricting pig shipments and mobilizing the military to contain the spread of ASF (Polansek, 2021).
Several countries, including Colombia, Mexico, and the USA have taken extreme precautions to prevent the entry of this disease into their territories. The Colombian authorities are inspecting 100% of the baggage from commercial flights from the Dominican Republic and connecting countries by means of scanners and, when necessary, physical inspection of the baggage (Pig333, 29 July 2021). The Mexican authorities ordered the reinforcement of the first sanitary defense barrier, which involves animal health inspections at all ports, airports, and borders entering the country (Pig333, 2021).
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service already had numerous safeguards in place to prevent ASF from entering the United States, but is now elevating the alert (Polansek, 2021; Welshans, 2021). Pork and pork products from the Dominican Republic are currently prohibited entry as a result of existing classical swine fever restrictions (Ingwersen & Polansek, 29 July 2021). Additionally, inspections of flights from the Dominican Republic to ensure travelers do not bring prohibited products to the United States are increasing (Ingwersen & Polansek, 2021). Proper disposal of garbage from these airplanes to prevent the transmission of ASF is being ensured (Ingwersen & Polansek, 2021).
BMEL. (26 July 2021). African Swine Fever (ASF): information on cases in Germany. Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft (Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture). Retrieved on 30 July 2021 from https://www.bmel.de/EN/topics/animals/animal-health/african-swine-fever.html
Cadogen, S. (1 August 2021). Threat to pig industry as ASF advances in Germany. The Irish Examiner. Retrieved from https://www.irishexaminer.com/farming/arid-40348562.html
Cody, E. (2 April 1983). To Snuff Out Swine Fever, Haiti Slaughters All Its Pigs. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1983/04/02/to-snuff-out-swine-fever-haiti-slaughters-all-its-pigs/6b9be8a9-a586-44d0-87c8-eefd94940f92/
Danzetta, M. L., Marenzoni, M. L., Iannetti, S., Tizzani, P., Calistri, P., & Feliziani, F. (2020). African Swine Fever: Lessons to Learn From Past Eradication Experiences. A Systematic Review. Frontiers in veterinary science, 7, 296. https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2020.00296
Dominican Today. (2 August 2021). Disease affecting pigs detected in 11 provinces of the country. Retrieved from https://dominicantoday.com/dr/local/2021/08/02/disease-affecting-pigs-detected-in-11-provinces-of-the-country/
FAO EMPRES-i. (2021). Global Animal Disease Information System (Empres-i). Retrieved on 5 August 2021 from https://empres-i.review.fao.org/#/
FAOSTAT. (2019). Crops and livestock products. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved on 4 August 2021 from http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/QCL
Fastmarkets. (20 July 2021). Severe outbreaks of African swine fever in Sichuan bring fresh fears for China’s farm. Retrieved from https://www.fastmarkets.com/article/3998685/severe-outbreaks-of-african-swine-fever-in-sichuan-bring-fresh-fears-for-chinas-farm
Hogan, M. (16 July 2021). Germany has first African swine fever case in farm pigs. Reuters. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/germany-has-first-african-swine-fever-case-farm-pigs-2021-07-16/
Ingwersen, J. & Polansek, T. (29 July 2021). African swine fever confirmed in Dominican Republic pigs -USDA. Reuters. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/african-swine-fever-confirmed-dominican-republic-pigs-usda-2021-07-28/
Lopez, E.A. (2 August 2021). Dominican Republic to kill thousands of pigs over swine fever outbreak. Reuters. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/dominican-republic-kill-thousands-pigs-over-swine-fever-outbreak-2021-08-02/
MSGIV. (2021). Afrikanische Schweinepest. Ministerium für Soziales, Gesundheit, Integration und Verbraucherschutz des Landes Brandenburg. Retrieved on 30 July 2021 from https://msgiv.brandenburg.de/msgiv/de/themen/verbraucherschutz/veterinaerwesen/tierseuchen/afrikanische-schweinepest/
Pig333. (29 July 2021). Mexico and Colombia take measures in response to confirmed ASF in Dominican Republic. Retrieved from https://www.pig333.com/latest_swine_news/mexico-and-colombia-take-measures-against-asf-in-dominican-republic_17664/?utm_source=newsletters333&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Swine+News-11531&xemail=aWRtPTExNTMxJmlkdT0xMzc3ODYmdD02NjdmZmZjNjc0ZjY2OTBmNTdjOWQ3YWE1NjRmNGJhYQ%3D%3D
Polansek, T. (30 July 2021). Dominican Republic restricts pig shipments, enlists military to fight African swine fever. Reuters. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-pigs-disease/dominican-republic-limits-pig-shipments-uses-military-to-fight-fatal-hog-virus-idUSKBN2EZ2X8/
Welshans, K. (29 July 2021). African swine fever confirmed in Dominican Republic. National Hog Farmer. Retrieved from https://www.nationalhogfarmer.com/news/african-swine-fever-confirmed-dominican-republic?NL=NHF-001&Issue=NHF-001_20210729_NHF-001_701&sfvc4enews=42&cl=article_2_b&utm_rid=CPG02000004773623&utm_campaign=60794&utm_medium=email&elq2=273d73a00df345119d5bd580db31ea2c
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